The need to have an active lifestyle for everyone is well-acclaimed. Physical activity benefits both our physical and psychological health. Exercise plays a crucial role when it comes to prevention, treatment plan and management of diabetes. Diabetes is one of the widespread sicknesses the world over. Statistics from WHO says that globally around 422 million people suffer from diabetes.
Diabetes occurs as a result of alterations in the insulin hormone. In type I diabetes, there is an insufficiency of the body to produce insulin but in type II diabetes, either insulin resistance develops or insulin hormone is insufficiently produced by the beta-cells of pancreas. Exercise is important in both types.
In this article, we will discuss how exercise can potentially benefit diabetics, as observed under various clinical studies.
Insulin resistance is a common risk factor of diabetes. In this case, our muscle cells are unable to uptake the insulin hence glucose available but during exercise, our body takes up this glucose to derive energy, even in the absence or insufficiency of insulin. Therefore, a regular physical activity regimen keeps our blood sugar levels in lower concentration by stimulating glucose uptake resulting in controlled HbA1C levels.
Aerobic exercises are beneficial for boosting metabolism but a regular aerobic training also helps in reducing triglyceride levels, blood pressure and insulin resistance, all of which are associated with type II diabetes. Similarly, resistance exercises have been shown to contribute to improving muscle mass and strength, body composition, bone mineral density, insulin sensitivity and heart health.
Some researchers also say that performing resistance exercises are specifically excellent for people with type I diabetes so as to curtail the risk of exercise-induced hypoglycemia. Elderly people with diabetes should also focus on flexibility and balance exercises as it reduces the risk of falls and allows greater flexibility around joints.
Clinical trials also revealed that a regular exercise schedule was effective in reducing HbA1C levels by 0.7% among diabetic people following different diets and medications. Exercise also keeps a check on the risk factors of diabetes like abdominal obesity, high LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels. People who have diabetes are also susceptible to develop blocked arteries and formation of plaques which can lead to strokes. Hence exercise becomes a necessity for them so as to maintain cardiovascular health. This fact was supported by a study which observed that at least four hours of exercise per week lowered the risk of heart disease by 40% as compared to sedentary individuals.
To sum up, exercise is important for the prevention and management of diabetes. For diabetics, the general recommendation is to exercise 1-3 hours post meals due to high blood sugar levels. In case of type I diabetes where people have taken insulin, always check your blood sugar levels before beginning with the exercise. This is done to reduce the possible effect of hypoglycemia. In case the level comes below 100 mg/dL then consuming fruit or light snack might prove beneficial. People should also be cautious in case of hyperglycaemia where levels are more than 250 mg/dL. To avoid these instabilities always carry a glucose tablet or candy to prevent hypoglycaemic shock.
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